I just got home from Disneyland! For 2009, Disneyland lets you visit free on your birthday. The waves were "going off" this morning so Surfer Guy was compelled to "paddle out". Once he returned from the "awesome" waves, we loaded up into the minivan and pointed it towards Anaheim. I was somewhat anticipating crowds because it is Spring Break week for many parts of the country. Although it was crowded, it wasn't really that bad. I had pre-registered on the Disney website so all I needed to do was bring the print out from the e-mail Disneyland sends you just before your birthday. They confirm your ID and that it is your birthday. [For kids, bring a birth certificate or passport] I passed. The cast member at the ticket booth also gave me a "Happy Birthday" pin to wear in the park. I was interested to see what would happen if I wore it.
I had made reservations for "Character Dining" for breakfast and dinner. For breakfast, we ate at Minnie and Friends which is just at the end of Main St. It's a breakfast buffet and was excellent. The food was tasty and there was a wide variety of choices. Under age 3 eats free so Chip and Lulu were cheap dates. The best part was all the characters who visited our table. You are guaranteed five characters, but we got many more than that: Chip & Dale (my favorites), Captain Hook, Minnie Mouse, Max (who I didn't recognize but I guess is Goofy's son), Gepetto, Eeyore and at least a couple more I can't remember! Next we headed to Chip's favorite ride, Autopia, which is cars that you can drive around a really cool course. Then we headed to Toon Town which is geared more to the toddler set. Chip is on a huge Mickey Mouse kick right now, so he and I stood in line to meet Mickey. Mickey hangs out in his house and is the only place in Disneyland where you can meet him. The line wasn't that bad and was also not boring because it worked its way through his house, so there was lots to look at.
We next headed over to Frontierland and jumped on the sailing ship Columbia, which is an old fashioned sailing ship. It sails around Tom Sawyer's Island and there is a lot to see on shore including Indians and animals. We weren't setting any land records and it was nice to not feel pressured. We live close enough and the two babies were free (under 3 receives free park admission) as was I. So we knew we were just there to have fun and do what we could. We had to do Pirates of the Caribbean, which is 6 really fun and one of Chip's favorites. It was here that I really saw the benefit of wearing my birthday pin, they sat us in the front of the boat! Also, throughout the park, cast members were constantly greeting me with a "Happy Birthday!" which was very fun. Time was marching on so we decided to walk over to the Disneyland Hotel for our dinner reservations at Goofy's Kitchen. It was about a 15 minute walk through Downtown Disney.
When we arrived at Goofy's Kitchen, they took a family photo of us at the entrance with Pluto. I guess Goofy was busy cooking. We were escorted to our table and given the goody bag that I had pre-ordered (you do not have to pre-order). It included a coloring book, crayons, character cards, and a crown. The little girl at the table next to me was celebrating her 8th birthday so I forked the crown over to her as she didn't have a goody bag. Chip had fun with the crayons and cards. Goofy's Kitchen is a buffet and was really good. They had several stations with a variety of vegetables, salad bar, kid's food station, meat carving, breads, and a big dessert station. Chip really loved the kid's macaroni and cheese. As at all Disney Character dining locations, kids under 3 eat free. Lulu was very involved in the mashed potatoes. As any good blogger does, I sampled everything so I could report back to you. My favorites were the popcorn shrimp, salad bar and cupcakes. Tip: the character dining restaurants offer a 10% discount if you are a AAA member.
Of course, the most fun was the characters coming to the table, we were visited by Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Princess Jasmine, Alice in Wonderland, Pluto and a couple of others I'm not remembering. Chip got most of them to sign his coloring book which was really fun. The other fun thing they do is periodically stop everything and have an activity. One was Goofy running out with a cart and baking supplies. All the kids run up and gather around and a song is playing and the kids all bang utensils and bowls and Goofy "makes a cake" on his cart, everyone dances around. A total blast for the kids. As it was my birthday, I decided to pre-order an individual birthday cake. This is something you can get at any Disney Dining establishment and do not have to pre-order. There is a choice of a Princess Jewelry Box or a Pirate Treasure Chest. Each one comes with a toy and an individual cake. Of course, this is mostly for kids, but I'm rather immature (see my Peter Pan Mom post) and I had a Lover of All Things Pirate with me, Chip. So I ordered the Pirate's Chest. When they brought it to my table, several characters, servers and busboys gathered around and sang to me. It was such a hoot. Surfer Guy would have rather hid under the table--he's a low key guy. He and Chip polished off most of the cake and I grabbed a bite. To be honest, it wasn't that amazing. Fairly dry. Surfer Guy agreed. But the Treasure Chest was totally worth it, Chip was so excited about it and it came with a cool hologram magnet that now sits on our fridge.
It was a long day with two toddlers so we decided to head home. We walked to the Mickey & Friends parking structure to work off some of the dinner. All in all, it was a good day and I'm so glad I got to go to Disneyland for my birthday!